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WASHINGTON – The Mexican army is escorting those attempting to cross over the U.S. border illegally – including known drug-runners – to areas not patrolled by the Minuteman Project near Naco, Ariz., say Border Patrol sources and other officials including a U.S. congressman.
Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., chairman of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus, denounced the action by the Mexican military and called on President Bush to do the same.
“President Bush should publicly denounce Mexico’s latest act to curb U.S. law,” said Tancredo. “The president of Mexico is threatening to sue any member of the Minutemen who have contact with a Mexican national, threatening to take the U.S. into the International Court of Justice at the Hague over the passage of Prop 200 in Arizona, and is providing transportation to Mexican nationals trying to sneak into the U.S. One could say he is acting in the best interest of his nation. Isn’t it unfortunate we cannot say the same thing about President Bush?”
Grey Deacon, a spokesman for the Minuteman Project, reported illegal immigration is down considerably from previous months in the area patrolled by the U.S. citizen volunteers trying to bring attention to the problem of the porous border. While he claimed credit for 241 Minuteman-assisted apprehensions by the Border Patrol in the week since the project began, he pointed out the 23-mile section of the border normally sees thousands of crossing attempts a day while they have been numbered in the dozens a day since the project began.
He said the Minutemen aided today in the capture of a “coyote,” a professional human smuggler.
“But the traffic is down because the Mexican military is leading illegal aliens, including drug smugglers, away from the area of the border we are patrolling,” he said.
Border Patrol sources say the Mexican army recently moved about 1,000 troops to the Agua Prieta region, just south of where the Minutemen are. These troops, the sources say, are diverting all of the illegal alien and drug-smuggling traffic away from the Minutemen.
Just prior to the launch of the Minuteman Project March 30, Miguel Escobar Valdez, Mexican consul in Douglas, Ariz., said the Mexican military was bracing for possible violence on the border.
“The Mexican army is on alert,” Escobar said. “Also, law enforcement will be vigilant because the situation is very volatile. This is because, I have to say it, there are violent and radical elements on both sides of the border.”
The Minuteman Project is a group of about 1,000 U.S. volunteers patrolling the U.S. side of the border on a 23-mile stretch in Arizona near Naco. When they spot illegal aliens crossing the border, they alert Border Patrol agents to make arrests. The members plan to stay through the end of April.
The volunteers focused on the border area near Naco because it had become one of the highest traffic corridors for border-crossing illegal aliens. Last year, more than 40 percent of the 1.15 million illegal aliens caught by the Border Patrol were taken into custody in the southern Arizona region.